Sunday, June 10, 2012

Liberty High School Closing?

If you stay in touch with local politics, you know the pain that the counties in Maryland are suffering right now that was handed to them compliments of Governor Martin O'Malley.  For decades the state has managed and funded the state pension system for teachers.  Now the counties are being forced to fund the state pension for the county teachers without any say in the matter.  As a result, now the counties are forced to take drastic measures.

In Carroll County, local leaders have trimmed the county budget as far as they think they can reasonably cut it without critically impacting county services.  Now, still several million dollars short of meeting the new requirement to fund the state pension, the county is now forced to make some very uncomfortable decisions that will have long-term implications.  Carroll County is now seriously considering closing schools in an effort to make more funds available to start funding the state pension.

My sources say that there is a tiered approach to which schools may be closing.  Tier 1 (schools that are most likely to close) are Liberty High School in Eldersburg and The Carroll Springs School for special needs children.  If this does not close the budget gap that Governor O'Malley has passed along, then several more schools will be on the chopping block, including North Carroll High School, one of the middle schools in Westminster, and another elementary school, whose name I cannot recall.

The county is seriously considering these options because, despite going on a building spree the past 10 years, thanks to massive funding for education by Martin O'Malley, the school populations are predicted to decline for the next several years before starting to increase again in 2018.  If the schools are closed, the Carroll County Public School system is required by law to hand the property back to the county, who retains the right to determine the fate of the property and the facility.  This means that the county can find an alternate use of the facility, such as another senior center or community center, or they can sell the property to a private interest, or they can demolish the school and sell the land.

Martin O'Malley - you keep saying that education is a priority, but it sounds like your spending habits are conflicting with your education priorities.  Rather than find ways to reduce the inflating state budget, you passed along a cost to the counties that the state has funded for many decades.  These counties are now forced to make decisions, based on your inability to control spending, that are now going to severely impact schools, teachers, children, and education.  Even worse, at the front-line of your careless decisions are the special-needs children that rely on us, children that you seem content with streamlining back into an education system that will not provide them with the care and services you need.  But that's the kind of governor you are.  And you know the teachers' unions will still blindly support you.

My children were really looking forward to going to Liberty High School.  Sorry kids, it looks like Martin O'Malley is taking away your dreams.

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